We are so thrilled to be featured in this week’s Eastern Eye Newspaper! You can read the full article online by clicking here and scrolling to Page 32-33.
Here are some snippets:
This is our story:
What was the moment you decided to go travelling?
We had been feeling unsatisfied with our lives for a while, wanting
more out of life and chasing constantly to get more time with our
children and less stress. Benjamin and I both felt like something was
missing from our lives, we had a nice house, cars, belongings etc but
what we really wanted was more time, time with our children, time as a
family, time with each other. We wanted to feel free again and not
tied down by bills, work and school so we talked about the idea of
travelling. Instantly we shut down the idea as we couldn’t see how
that would ever be possible. We had a family, responsibilities,
Zacharia was about to turn 2 years old, Emiliana had school and clubs
to attend to, we had work commitments and a house. But the thing that
pushed our idea into reality was a few sudden bereavements in the
family that triggered off this “get up and live” attitude that we both
felt very strongly about. The feeling was so strong that it made us
realise anything is possible if you really want it.
What was the first step you took?
When we realised there were more reasons to go than to stay, we took
the plunge and started telling family and friends. The first thing we
did was speak to Emiliana’s school to find out if we could take our
child out of school without receiving any penalties. We also needed to
know how to school her ourselves and how to get her back into a school
if/when we returned. Luckily we both worked for ourselves, so it
wasn’t hard to wind down working.
What was the process of selling your belongings like?
Well, if we were really going to do this, we needed money! Zach was 2
years old now which meant we would need to pay a full airfare for him
too, every time we flew somewhere. We set about claiming as much money
from our belongings as possible. We still needed a car to get around
until we left so we downgraded and saved the rest of the money. Every
day after work we’d get a knock at our door from someone who was
picking up a bargain they had seen on eBay or Gumtree. Every Sunday
morning Benjamin would be up at 5am and off to our local car boot sale
to sell our belongings, shoes, tools, lamps, records, pictures,
blankets, tables, you name it, we were selling it. Emiliana, Zach and
I would be over a few hours later with egg and chapati rolls for daddy
and our helping hands. Things we couldn’t sell we’d pack up and take
to our local Charity shops. Soon enough our home was practically
empty. We were sitting on the carpet eating our dinners and borrowing
the neighbours lawn mower to cut our grass but it felt liberating, it
felt empowering. We had taken a stand against life as we knew it, we
had stood up to all those normal conventional family lifestyles and
said “hey its cool, we’ve got it from here”. It was exciting, we were
taking full control of our lives.
How did your families feel about the plan?
At first they were very excited for us but then the duration started
to sink in and they felt sad as they would miss us, especially the
kids. Then we told them that we weren’t booking a return ticket and
the water works started! Luckily both our families like to travel and
have met us in different countries over the past 10 months.
How did you plan out the route?
It is very difficult to plan a year of travel especially as we wanted
spontaneity in our lives so much. We had previously planned to attend
our cousins wedding in Canada in March 2018 so it made sense to
continue travelling from there. That dictated which way we went around
the World. So we started in North America, then South America and so
on. We only planned one country at a time and on some occasions looked
up flights to the cheapest neighbouring countries and off we went. We
are pretty laid back travellers and book most accommodations the night
How did you decide to finance the whole trip?
We had some savings but the bulk of our money was from selling all our
belongings. It felt so liberating to get rid off all our stuff! We
started to realise that we didn’t need all those things. It sparked
this idea of ‘minimalism’ and how you can live with less. We totally
want to continue this idea whenever we settle down.
Tell us about the countries you have visited?
We are currently 10 months in and on our 20th country. We have been to
Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Easter Islands, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia,
Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and now India!
This trip to India has been on hold for 6 years as we planned to
travel but then started a family. We feel at home here in India, it’s
such a colourful country with so much to offer. I think we travelled
the right way around as very little phases us now, as we have seen so
much! We have ticked off so many places that were on our bucket list.
I really wanted to go to the Salt Flats in Bolivia and see Christ the
Redeemer in Brazil. Benjamin was so excited to get to see Chichen Itza
in Mexico and the amazing Machu Picchu in Peru. We had to learn
Spanish at the start of our trip as there is limited english spoken in
Central and South America. Seeing the Moai or Giant Heads on the
Easter Islands was like nothing we have seen before. Sleeping in an
over water bungalow in French Polynesia with what looked like a wild
aquarium swimming right underneath us was a dream come true. Spending
a month in our small camper van exploring the North and South Islands
of New Zealand brought us closer as a family and we will never forget
all the amazing under water experiences we have had. The people in
Fiji were so kind and in Indonesia, everyone loved our children. We
had a whistle-stop tour of Sydney and got to stay with an old friend
in Singapore. Malaysia was a nice mix of beach and city-life and we
even managed to fit in Sri Lanka before arriving in India in December.
We love South-East Asia and are returning to Thailand next month.
Which has been the most memorable?
Ahhh, that is so hard to answer as, we have been lucky to have visited
so many amazing countries. If we had to say 1 country as a family, it
would have to be New Zealand. We had a whole month to explore and were
able to immerse ourselves in the Maori culture. Zacharia still talks
about it now 4 months on. New Zealand is such a diverse country and
the North and South Island are very different so the experience you
get is so varied. We chilled on 90 mile beach, stood at the very top
of the North Island and physically saw where the Pacific Ocean and
Tasman sea met. We explored caves, found glow worms and bathed on hot
water beach. We stood on the same ground where the Maori treaty was
signed and witnessed a geyser erupt. We trekked together to see Franz
Josef Glazier, went luging for the first time and taught Emiliana how
to ski. The list of experiences we had in New Zealand is endless and
on top of all that we did it in a small camper van, sleeping under the
stars in remote places, or just by a lake or in a field. It’s probably
the freest we have felt ever.
How have the children coped with the journey?
The kids are totally in their element, with most days consisting of
exploring and trying new foods. They get tired at times, as do we, but
we make sure that we take it easy and some days, we have home days and
watch a movie or just relax and do nothing. Emiliana has her moments
when she misses friends and family but thanks to technology these
moments are short lived. It’s so easy to WhatsApp or video call family
to get that home fix you need. We have been lucky to have a lot of
family visiting us plus we have some friends that live abroad and we
have had the chance to meet them too. We would never have gone on this
adventure if our kids weren’t easy going. They are great travellers
and take everything in their stride. It’s been amazing seeing Zach
grow and socialise, he was even saying Spanish phrases early on into
our travels. They have so much confidence and can talk for England! I
can’t imagine where they get that from.
How are you educating them?
They are in a World school now and have learnt so much through travel,
the education they are getting on the road just cannot be taught in
the classroom. However academically we home school both our kids and
they have lots of educational apps and books on their tablets which
they have to do each day. We are quite easy on them though as they are
young and we don’t think that missing a bit of school at this young
age will hamper their long-term success. Their social skills are
incredible coupled with there constant absorption of local languages
and cultures. Their World is currently incredibly colourful with a new
vibrant experience just a stone’s throw away. They are seeing and
learning so much more than they would sitting in a classroom with 4
walls. Their World is an open book and their brains are getting etched
with World knowledge, it’s very exciting.
What is or has been the biggest challenge of this adventure?
The biggest challenge of this adventure is actually travelling with
kids! The kids are our top priority at all times. We take the easy
route at times because for example busy, packed trains or a 12 hour
bus can be a bit too much for the kids. We might stay at places for
longer so that the kids have time to rest and acclimatise and we take
way less risks than we might have done if it was just the two of us.
Having said that, travelling with kids has got so much easier as
travelling has become a way of life for us all. We are nomads and for
the most part, we love it!
How are you able to sustain the financing of the trip?
Travelling is very different to going on a holiday. We stay in budget
places, home-stays and Air BnBs where we can. We have collaborated
with luxury hotels which has enabled us to experience both sides of
travelling. We cannot always take the cheapest mode of travel as our
children are young and we know their limitations but we are frugal
most of the time. We set out with our savings and fortunately, it has
served us together with sponsored stays we are still going!
What would you say to those who may think this isn’t responsible?
We have always had a motto ‘Our Family, Our Rules’ and try not to listen to negative comments. Every family is on a journey and they should do what they want to do. We thought long and hard about our decision but when you lose loved ones, it really
puts things into perspective and suddenly your path becomes very
clear. We say to people, ‘What’s a year? What’s 2 years in a life-time
of the same old routine?’ We are the fortunate ones, we have our
health and that is the only thing that would have ever stopped us. So
what if we blow all our savings and have nothing left when we return?
We don’t mind getting the bus because while we sit there the memories
of this journey will have us smiling from ear to ear for years to
What has been your own most memorable moment on the trip?
Again, this is so difficult to answer. Being reunited with family
along the way, watching Emiliana learn how to ski in New Zealand,
Zacharia doing his first stand up wee in Malaysia, but I guess I have
to choose one. It is a cliché but it’s got to be the spectacular view
of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate. That wow moment still gives me
butterflies when I think about it. It’s funny because visiting Machu
Picchu wasn’t even up there on my bucket list, but you don’t know what
will move you until it happens. Benjamin found ‘Christ the Redeemer”
in Brazil very moving and overwhelming.
You have got quite a following on social media, what has that been like?
It has been so special. Just prior to leaving we set up a website,
Instagram and YouTube account for our travelling pictures and video’s,
we had a brainstorm for names and after a few idea’s “The Flip Flop
Family” was born. We now use our social media platform to offer advice
to other families who may be thinking about travelling or ones that
are already travelling. We have become part of a travelling community
now which is very comforting. Every day we get lovely messages from
old and new friends giving us tips, commenting on how they are
enjoying our Instagram feed and encouraging us to continue on our
journey, this means a lot. Our following has also enabled us to
collaborate with various companies, hotels and brands along the way.
What is the plan going ahead?
We have some exciting collaborations and give-aways coming up and will
continue to travel until we either get tired or find somewhere we want
to settle. We are currently in India until February and will then head
to Bangkok. We have Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines and Japan still on
our list but would also like to see Borneo! Who knows where 2019 will
take us, but as long as we are together we will be happy wherever we
Will you return to the life you led before back in UK?
We hope not. That life wasn’t working for us as a family, we need to
spend more family time together and although we have to conform to
some things like school and generating an income we want our lives to
be different, after all we are different now. This travelling
experience has changed us and moulded us, we want to keep evolving not
go backwards. London is an amazing city and leaving has made us
realise that more. London is also where our amazing friends and family
are so London will always be home.
What advice would you give families travelling together?
We would say that you should expect humps in the road, it is never
going to be plain sailing and there will be challenges. Be patient
with each other and embrace togetherness. Having family is the most
precious thing in the World so treat your family with care. Take time
to listen to your children and enjoy all the unique experiences. Share
your travel photos and stories so that others can experience it with
What inspires and drives you as a mother on this adventure?
I am inspired by how different every country is and how things are
done so differently. I have a ritual whenever we reach a new place, I
leave the kids with Ben and go for a little walk to get my bearings. I
breathe in and accept the new smells and people-watch to see how
things are done, I always try and learn a few words of the native
language even if they speak english and have a chat with someone on my
way. I love people and I love communicating, I get inspired by what I
see and hear. Just yesterday I was sitting at a roof top Cafe in
Pushkar and this older French couple who we bumped into by the Lake
came over and spoke to me. He showed me his sketches that he had
penned on the backwaters of Kerala. It was so lovely to see his point
of view of the same place we had visited.
Each day my family drive me to continue on this journey together. I
see how much we have all grown closer and how much the kids have grown
mentally and physically. Their ability to converse with people from
any walk of life is truly amazing. Seeing Benjamin be an epic father,
teaching Emiliana how to play the Ukulele and being boisterous with
Zacharia. When do fathers get unlimited time with their family? hardly
ever! All that drives me as a mother and a wife.
Why do you love being on this adventure?
We are together 24/7 and have been for the past 10months, we drive
each other a bit crazy at times but we are closer than ever now. I
just love that we have had this opportunity to explore and experience
the World as a family. It will be so strange whenever the kids return
back to school. We will miss being with them as they are kept in
school for at least 6hours a day, that seems like a lot of time to be
apart! Our life in London feels like a life time ago, and although
some days can be challenging this nomad lifestyle is something we
would not change for the World.
You can follow our journey on social media @TheFlipFlopFamily
We have lots of videos, tips and itineraries to help fellow travellers